LAHORE - The issue of talks or any agreement between Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf and slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto on the National Reconciliation Ordinance was never 'formally discussed at any official meeting, says Mian Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, who was foreign minister during the entire period when contacts between the then president and the exiled PPP leadership started and blossomed into an agreement that paved the way for the return of the former prime minister to homeland. Talking to TheNation on Wednesday, he said the then PML-Q leadership was conveyed that Benazir Bhutto was demanding either withdrawal of cases against her or an end to ban on a former prime minister to become the head of government for a third time. Understandably, Mr Kasuri was very cautious in narrating whatever he knew or remembered of the contacts between the then president and the PPP leadership or the role played by the then PML-Q leadership. Mr Kasuri and the Chaudhrys have differences over various issues, but he doesnt want to side either with Musharraf or the Chaudhrys on the NRO issue, whose negative fallout was beyond anyones imagination when its details were being worked out. Kasuri is in the opposite camp of the Chaudhrys, but he also did not participate in the London ceremony at which the former president launched his own All Pakistan Muslim League. Musharraf alleges that he had agreed to the NRO because the Chaudhrys wanted him to do so, a claim strongly refuted by the latter. Kasuri said while Musharraf used to co-chair with the prime minister important cabinet meetings at which important issues were discussed, no cabinet meeting was held on the NRO issue. He said it was regarded as an issue between the then president and the PML-Q leadership, not the government. The former foreign minister recalled that those in the setup were 'conveyed that the party leadership was opposed to removing ban on the third-time primership as such a waiver would clearly mean that Benazir Bhutto was returning to Pakistan from exile only to become the head of government, a perception the PML-Q could not afford to subscribe. Mr Kasuri said the PML-Q was confident of its victory in the 2008 elections because of the excellent performance of its five-year rule. However, the situation changed with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Asked who used to 'convey and to whom what he claimed was communicated to others who were part of the setup, the former foreign minister said obviously the then president must have been in contact with the PML-Q leadership. The only thing I clearly remember is that when the decisions were taken, 'We were conveyed that the party has preferred to withdraw cases (and retain ban on the third term premiership). He said to be fair to Chaudhrys, he would like to bring on record that they did not know that the NRO would become such a serious issue that would overshadow the political scene. At that time, he said, it was being stated time and again that the cases against Benazir Bhutto and others were baseless.